Best purple/lavender zinnia?

mantis__ohAugust 10, 2014

I am looking for a purple or lavender zinnia that does not have mauve overtones. Does anyone have experience with those available, such as Purple Prince, Benary Lilac, Benary Giant Violet, or Violet Queen? Web pictures seem to be all over the place.

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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

Purple is a difficult flower color to get accurate in pictures. I highly suggest trying all you mentioned!


    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 4:16PM
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Surely someone has experience with these varieties, regardless of pictures.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 11:31AM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

Yes, I have experience with a couple of them but your post appears, to me, you are asking people which of those don't have mauve overtones. That I can't help you with that as I don't know what is mauve to you and I can't show you a picture that shows the true color.

For me the benary's have all done very well. Is there something you would like to know about them aside from color?


    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 11:18AM
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Swallowtail Gardens has one that might fill the bill. It is called Lilac Emperor Super Cactus.

Reading down on the Swallowtail zinnias list, I think you can rule out Violet Queen, Purple Prince, Uproar Rose (which is badly named in my opinion), Benary's Giant Wine, Benary's Giant Lilac, Benary's Giant Purple, and Dream.

I have not grown Lilac Emperor Super Cactus, so I cannot personally testify as to the photo's color accuracy. I do know, however, that zinnias are capable of producing that color, because I have seen that very color among my recombinant hybrid zinnias. The photo looks accurate to me. I have grown Uproar Rose, which is a rather expensive F1 hybrid, and they turned out to be a very uniform medium purple dahlia flowered zinnia. They didn't remind me of a Rose at all.

I wouldn't hesitate to try Lilac Emperor from Swallowtail Garden Seeds, though. I will try them next year, because I also want to get away from that pervasive mauve undertone in zinnias.

I breed zinnias as a hobby, and I will order some zinnia seeds from Swallowtail Garden Seeds next year to add some of their zinnia varieties to my zinnia gene pool.

(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)

This post was edited by zenman on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 16:05

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 3:23PM
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I tried Lilac Emperor last year and found the blooms to be not nearly so full as in the picture, the color not so deep and vibrant, and flowers very inconsistent. The plants were also weak. Uproar Rose was more prone to disease than my other zinnias. To me it is a purplish rose, a strong color that does not blend well.

I probably mean "magenta" rather than "mauve." I like the color that Johnny's pictures with Giant Dahlia Colored Violet since it does not have rosy overtones that the Benary's Purple at Johnny's has. Purple Prince also seems to have rosy overtones. Swallowtail has one called "Giant Lilac," but it doesn't look lilac at all to me. By the way, I was also disappointed with the Creamy Yellow Giant at Swallowtail (weak, browned quickly, sparse bloom and not at all "giant"). I liked the Benary's Wine and Coral.

Just trying to elicit some experiences with different cultivars. It is a considerable waste of space to plant something that turns out to be not as pictured or a weak grower.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 10:12PM
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Hi mantis__oh,

" I liked the Benary's Wine and Coral. "

Are there any other zinnia varieties that you liked?

"It is a considerable waste of space to plant something that turns out to be not as pictured or a weak grower."

I agree with that. However, as an amateur zinnia breeder, I do plant a lot of hand hybridized F1 and F2 hybrid zinnias that I know in advance I am going to cull a lot of them. Also, I will plant commercial zinnia varieties with the expectance that they will vary a lot and I will use pollen from or save seeds from only a few of the very best. If you choose to save seeds from your zinnias for use next year, it just makes sense to save seeds from only the best ones. And the following year, you will be saving seeds from the best of the best, and so on. You can make a lot of progress doing that.

"...or a weak grower."

There are zinnias that are just defective in that regard, but I have a big zinnia garden and sometimes some of my zinnias get neglected by me and I don't take the best care of them, and an inhospitable environment can make them seem to be a weak grower, when if I took really good care of them, they would flourish. If a zinnia appears to be "special" I designate it as a breeder, put a coded tag on it, and take better care of it than the ones I just keep for the butterflies and hummingbirds. There are several ways to improve your care of a zinnia that most people don't do.


This post was edited by zenman on Thu, Aug 14, 14 at 13:45

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 1:41PM
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I was disappointed in both the color and form of Violet Queen, grown last year. It wasn't a horrible color, but I was looking for that deep, dark purple.

This post was edited by jaynine on Thu, Aug 14, 14 at 16:02

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 4:00PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

Pictures on packages are made to sell. When you believe in them I have a bridge to sell you.

Best approach is like Zenman said...plan to cull.

I like to over plant and cull. Reduced disappointment in something that doesn't come true.

Both my wife and I have brown eyes but have blue eyed girls.... Same for flowers, genetics are not absolute in how they work.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:30PM
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Hi Jaynine,

That's a great picture, showing the contrast between the packet picture and "the real thing". I have to admit, I am shocked by how bad the real thing looks compared to the picture on the packet.

I don't know if discrepancies like this are "typical", but I suspect they are. And that the garden seed industry is not doing a good job of policing themselves.

Most seed companies will refund the price of a packet of seed you were dissatisfied with, but that isn't justification for marketing a poor quality product. And it doesn't "right the wrong" either. It doesn't account for the time lost by the gardener in caring for what turns out to be a poor plant, it doesn't take into account that garden space has been wasted and that the gardener's time and effort have been wasted. I am not one of those who think that more government regulation is a panacea, but the present situation that gardeners find themselves in needs some kind of consumer protection.

I think that your picture is evidence of a clear case of product fraud, and fraud is a crime. Thanks for posting the picture.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:49PM
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It definitely should be noted that the intensity of color directly relates to the nutrients in the soil. There's also some complex interactions going on between the number of buds, the success of pollination, and whether a given bud fills out with petals, or begins producing antlers. If I don't fertilize well and hand pollinate, I have noticed that I get daisy like rings of petals that start heavily producing pollen, but hand brushing pollen between them encourages fuller dahlia like flowers. It seems to take two or three days to change whatever hormone is making that decision. Outdoor flowers are not going to have nearly the pollination problem, but lack of pollination can lead to dissatisfaction. Check for seeds in those flower heads. If you are not getting enough, try hand pollinating and using a bloom fertilizer to deepen your colors.

I unfortunately don't have blooms on my lilac emporer, but mine is a lavender to white cactus type with big blooms that fade fast to pale white. There's no red tones at all in mine.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 6:54AM
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